Bugøynes Travel Guide: What to Do in Norway’s ‘Little Finland’

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I have visited hundreds (maybe thousands) of places in Norway over the years, but one that I just can’t get my mind off of is Bugøynes, a small village on the Varanger Fjord.

This beautiful village, also known as ‘Little Finland’ (I explain more below) has to be one of the most idyllic places to visit in Northern Norway and one that actually gets overlooked due to its extremely remote location.

Bugøynes travel guide: Things to do and more!
Bugøynes travel guide: Things to do and more!

In this guide, I will discuss why I visited Bugøynes, a bit of its unique history, and what to do when you’re there.

If you are planning to visit Kirkenes or do a road trip along Norway’s Varanger Peninsula, throw some extra time in your itinerary and make a stop at Bugøynes!

Did I miss anything in this guide? Let me know if you have any questions in the comments. Thanks!

About Bugøynes (and Where is It?!)

Bugøynes is a small fishing village (only around 230 people live there) that is situated on the Varangerfjord in Sør-Varanger municipality.

While I think the destination is a must-visit in Troms og Finnmark county – many people simply haven’t heard of it.

There are many wooden buildings in beautiful Bugøynes
There are many wooden buildings in beautiful Bugøynes

First settled by Norwegians in the 17th century, the village was later left abandoned… only to be repopulated by Finns in the 18th century.

Today, the village is inhabited by many with Finnish ancestry, and some still speak the language. Bugøynes has been dubbed ‘Lille-Finland’, or ‘Little Finland’ because of its unique history and ties with Finland.

A beautiful red house in Bugøynes
A beautiful red house in Bugøynes

However, one super interesting fact is that Bugøynes was never burned down or destroyed by ‘Operation Nordlicht’ during WWII.

Operation Nordlicht was a German operation in 1944-1945 where the Germans retreated after the Finns and USSR made peace, but burned everything along the way.

Throughout this time, they scorched almost all buildings in Northern Norway’s Finnmark region, getting rid of any facilities the enemies could make use of. 

The lonely road to Bugøynes
The lonely road to Bugøynes

However, Bugøynes was never burned down (likely due to its off-the-grid location) and it remains one of the only places in the region that escaped this history.

Today, you will see a village teeming with cute wooden homes and buildings and a complete standout in a region quickly rebuilt after WWII for functionality rather than aesthetics.

How to Get to Bugøynes

Interestingly, I found quite a few travelers in Bugøynes during the summer months – 100% of whom were making a stop in their campervans. I didn’t see anyone else.

So, you can get there by RV (they have a nice parking spot with free bathrooms, showers, etc), or you can make the trip there from Kirkenes or any other launchpad in the region. 

This galleri is in the campervan area
This galleri is in the campervan area

From Kirkenes, you will need to drive the E6 west and turn right on the Fv355 just before getting to Gandvik. It is a straight shot from there.

Beware that this road is hilly and not too wide (although it is in good condition) and be prepared for campervan traffic along the way if you’re visiting during the summer.

The drive from Kirkenes to Bugøynes is about an hour and a half each way. Watch out for reindeer on the road, which is always something to be vigilant of when driving in Norway (well, the North at least).

The road to Bugøynes.- I must have seen 20 rainbows
The road to Bugøynes – I must have seen 20 rainbows

If you are visiting from the Varanger Peninsula (Vadsø or Vardø), you can take the E75 toward Varangerbotn and then the E6 toward Kirkenes (taking a left once you’re slightly past Gandvik on the Fv355).

Best Time to Visit Bugøynes

Summer. This area of Norway is pretty cold and during the winter months, it is dark.

The summer brings long days and the village also has a festival during July called the Bugøynesfestivalen which happened to be at the same time I was visiting.

Long nights make Bugøynes perfect for a summer trip
Long days make Bugøynes perfect for a summer trip

It was such an energetic place during this time – which I never expected from a such a small village!

How Long Do You Need in Bugøynes?

Honestly, if you’re arriving in a campervan, I think it is a good place to enjoy a couple of nights. It was peaceful and the town was super friendly. But, if you’re with a car, a day is plenty of time.

Overlooking Vestersanden from the camping area
Overlooking Vestersanden from the camping area

There is not an overabundance to do there, but the nature is so jaw-dropping that I think it warrants an entire day.

Getting there from Kirkenes takes about an hour and a half and the route there is insane, so I recommend planning some extra time in your itinerary for random stops.

Best Things to Do in Bugøynes

1. Walk Around the Village

The best thing to do in Bugøynes is to wander about the village.

I found the locals super friendly and the wooden homes and historic buildings were so appealing that it was fun to just wander about and take it all in.

Bugøynes Chapel in the distance
Bugøynes Chapel in the distance

Two iconic buildings to check out are:

Lassigården (Lassi House): built in 1847 as a trading house for a family from Vadsø called the Ebensens that has been repurposed as a museum.

It is open during the summer months (generally from 1100-1700).

Bugøynes Chapel: only dates back to 1989 and built by Lien & Risan Arkitektkonto. It is hard to miss the Bugøynes landmark as it is surrounded by a cemetery.

Around the church, there is a very rare plant/flower called the Boreal Jacobs-Ladder that you can check out. It is forbidden to pick it.

2. See the Beaches in Bugøynes

One of the top Bugøynes attractions is the view of the place, as odd as that sounds! You have a strip of land with a beach on both sides of it and that is where most of the town lives.

You can see both Sanden and Vestersanden in this photo
You can see both Sanden and Vestersanden in this photo

The beaches are called Sanden and Vestersanden. There are many views of Vestersanden, and you can see through the crystal-clear water if you are in the right place.

3. Go on a King Crab Safari

This region of Norway is known for its king crab, and you can even go on a king safari in Bugøynes! Truthfully, this is one of the best things to do if you’re visiting Norway with kids, as it is an interactive experience (and also tasty).

I went on one in Kirkenes (such a worthwhile experience) and will definitely partake in one in Bugøynes next time I visit!

The King Crab Safari is super popular in Bugøynes
The King Crab Safari is super popular in Bugøynes

The duration of the RIB boat tour is 2-3 hours and it is 1650 NOK for an adult (kids under 14 are half price). You will also be given a floatation suit.

Once the part of the tour on boat wraps up, you will head to Bugøynes Bistroen and they will cook up what you caught so you can enjoy a nice meal afterward.

>> Click here to book a king crab safari in Bugøynes

4. Have a Meal at Bugøynes Bistro

Opened in 2015, Bugøynes Bistro is the only one in the village (well, the only one I happened to see).

They serve local food, and a lot of it comes straight from the Barents Sea at their doorstep. King crab is their specialty and I highly recommend lunch or dinner here when visiting!

The Bugøynes Bistro
The Bugøynes Bistro

They are open Monday-Saturday from 1000-1800 and are closed on Sundays during the winter months. They are open daily during the summer.

5. Drink with the Locals at Egnebuloftet

There is one pub in town and it is called Egnebuloftet. Since there was a festival going on that occupied my time right beside it, I didn’t pop into the bar (and I was also driving back to Kirkenes).

Egnebuloftet: the world's most beautifully situated pub
Egnebuloftet: the world’s most beautifully situated pub

But, if you’re staying overnight, this is a great place to have a pint with locals in the evening!

6. Rejuvenate at the Jäämeren Sauna

Would a trip to ‘Little Finland’ be complete without a visit to the Jäämeren Sauna?

No. I didn’t do my research beforehand and did not plan (or dress) for the occasion, which left me gutted! But, I hope you can visit the wood-fired sauna and relax on your trip to Bugøynes.

Jäämeren Sauna
Jäämeren Sauna

The sauna is fired with birch wood and you will also get to enjoy some snacks and refreshments after you enjoy the sauna (and a dip in the cold Varangerfjord!).

One cool thing about the sauna experience is that you can book it online and they also offer local accommodation in their Olgahuset (1-10 people), Dagrunhuset (1-6 people), or the House of Prayer (1-6 people). Bedding is included but breakfast is not.

>> Click here to book the sauna or accommodation at Jäämeren

7. See if Primafisk’s Food Truck is Around

To be frank, I have no idea if this was a one-off thing because of the festival or if the Primafisk food truck is regularly around Bugøynes (and I can’t seem to track the info down easily).

Primafisk in Bugøynes
Primafisk in Bugøynes

But, if they are there (they were located near the campervan area), INDULGE. Everything they serve is ridiculously fresh and mouthwateringly good!

I bought a fishcake and sat at a nearby picnic table overlooking Vestersanden.

Checking out Vestersanden with a fresh fishcake
Checking out Vestersanden with a fresh fishcake

I was so gutted that I ate before finding the food truck because they had soup and other delicious items on their menu. 

Where to Stay in Bugøynes

Hedvig House

The most popular place to stay in Bugøynes is the Hedvig House, which is situated super close to the Bugøynes Bistro. The house is historical and has been converted into accommodation. 

Some other places you can book are:

  • Krambui Apartment (2-bedroom apartment that can host 4 people)
  • Panorama Annex Suite (has panoramic views and a sauna – can host 1-2 people)

All of the places listed above can be booked on Visit Bugøynes’ website.

One of the famous viewpoints over Bugøynes
One of the famous viewpoints over Bugøynes

Do you have any questions about the best things to do in Bugøynes or any information you’d like to know before visiting? Let me know in the comments. Thanks!

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